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'Hurt Locker' Lawsuit: Soldier Alleges Theft of Life Story

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 04, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's only a few days before the legendary Academy Awards and one major Oscar player is finding themselves in the midst of a lawsuit from a soldier who claims the film amounts to a theft of his life story.

The movie "Hurt Locker" is a major contender for Best Picture. But some are now alleging that the movie, which claims to be based on fictional characters, is actually based on a real life man.

The man is Master Sargeant Jeffrey S. Sarver, who believes that the "Hurt Locker" screenwriter, Mark Boal, based "virtually all of the situations" in the movie on Sarver's life.  Sarver also claims that he is the founder of the phrase "the hurt locker".  Mark Boal was a jouralist who spend a significant amount of time with Sarver's team in Iraq. Soon afterwards, Boal published an article in Playboy magazine, detailing his experience and focusing on Sarver.  The movie is a broader adaptation of that Playboy article.  

The storyline focuses on one character, named Will James, whose nickname is "Blaster One." Sarver claims that "Blaster One" was his "call signal" while stationed in Iraq.

In his complaint, the Sargeant makes a host of claims including: invasion of privacy, misappropriation of name and likeness (his "right of publicity"), defamation, breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

He alleges that the depictions of him were "a major misrepresentation of his character, history, activities and/or beliefs," and that some of the depictions could render his life in danger, should he ever be deployed again. 

The Hurt Locker lawsuit focuses repeatedly on Sgt. Sarver's status as a "hero" and on his high ranking status in the military. In his complaint, Sgt. Sarver also alleges that he suffers emotional distress and harm due to young soldiers laughing at him because of the way he was portrayed in the movie.  

Sarver's defamation lawsuit asks for damages of at least $450,000, along with unstated damages for emotional distress, costs and attorney fees.

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